CBCP on Reproductive Health

It’s about temporal power after all

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines

The real motive behind the Philippine Catholic Church’s opposition to the RH Bill is exposed by Liberty Chee. (The Wom[b]an question…)

    Regulating sex and sexuality assures the moral order as defined by Church ideology. In the case of the Philippines, curtailing the power of the church to regulate birth and to produce truths about the human body and the purpose of human life would also mean diminishing its political power in the earthly domain. It would replace the divine moral order with that of the secular authorities. This is perhaps why the pastoral letter reminds its readers of the Church’s role in restoring democracy in the Philippines.

By sheer coincidence, Cardinal Jose Sanchez, confirmed Liberty’s conclusion.

Here’s an excerpt from a story in the Inquirer:

    Sanchez said he came back to the country from Rome to ward off the “tendencies that threaten to destroy the Catholic Church.” 

    “I did not come here to fight the RH Bill. I came here to protect the Catholic doctrine. (The RH bill) is insignificant as far as the problems of the world are concerned. But I’m happy that it is being faced seriously by the Philippine Church,” Sanchez said.

What was it like before Sanchez retired? How much political power did the native priest enjoy during his time?

    Sanchez recalled that when he was once a bishop assigned in Bicol, he was a “friend to all the congressmen” so it was easy for him to confront them when a proposed law contradicted church doctrine. 

    “If there are bills contradictory to the Catholic teachings, I would go to these congressmen one by one to enlighten them with the Catholic teachings and they would easily agree with me. And as friends, they would find it hard to go against the bishop,” Sanchez said.

The bishops oppose the RH Bill because it involves something more basic than morality, it is a direct challenge to their political power.

They have become accustomed to politicians bending over and kissing their rings so they will not surrender power and all the perks and privileges that come with it without a fight.

That’s why they have pulled out all the stops and resorted to using weapons – intimidation, lies, misrepresentation –  that no one who professes to be a good Catholic would dare touch.

It’s a fight to the finish as far as the native bishops are concerned. If they lose, then the unthinkable and the unbearable happens: goodbye to the corridors of power and hello to slum alleys, ministering to the poor and powerless (which is really what they should have been doing in the first place).

But who can blame a bishop for preferring to save the souls of the rich instead of the poor? Who will choose to get mud on their shoes and eat pagpag for dinner when one can also do God’s work while enjoying the salons and tables of the rich and powerful?

Image credit: Darth Narutorious, some rights reserved.


By Beth Angsioco

“Deadma” is a popular Filipino expression. It comes from “dead malice,” translated into “‘patay malisya” or “patay mali,” commonly used in the ‘90s.

We are “deadma’” when we ignore something or someone, usually, something that persists or someone persistent. When we “deadma,” we act like a dead person: unfeeling, unseeing, unhearing. At other times, we “deadma’”when we distance ourselves from a controversial or sticky situation. This brings to mind another common expression: “iwas-pusoy.”

Recently, reproductive health advocates were shocked because of one big deadma act: President Noynoy Aquino dropped the RH bill from his list of legislative priorities. “Dinedma ni PNoy ang RH,” said a friend. This came despite the President’s initial pro-RH pronouncements and the persistent pro-responsible parenthood positioning. Removing the bill from his list of urgent measures was a big disappointment at best, and a betrayal at worst.

Some disclosure is needed here. I did not vote for Noynoy. I considered him a good-hearted person BUT not good enough for the Presidency. However, when he overwhelmingly won, I accepted the fact that he was note the President of the country. I even wrote a note on my Facebook account saying that I would want to be able to say that Noynoy is MY President. I had a big reason for this: the RH bill.

Thus, I will “deadma’” anyone who will accuse me of being critical of the President because I did not vote for him.

Two days ago, Malacañang issued a statement that PNoy NEVER pushed for the RH bill. WRONG. We need to go back a bit here.

Shortly after then-Senator Noynoy announced that he was running, he was asked about his positions on issues, including RH. He came out as being pro-RH. A news item on 28 September 2009 entitled, “Aquino defies Church, backs controversial bill” quoted him as saying, “Whatever they say about my position on the RH bill, I am sticking to it despite the pressure from certain quarters. If I get the support or not of the Church and pro-life groups, it is secondary for my advocacy to get everybody educated on reproductive health.” Those were big, brave words from the man of the hour.

So how did responsible parenthood come about? As expected, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines pounced on Noynoy and threatened to not support his candidacy. The Senator retreated by saying he was mistakenly labelled as a co-author of the bill. Soon after, I received messages from some of his people — they were looking for a way to handle the situation.

In October 2009, a few pro-RH leaders were invited to a meeting with Campaigns and Grey’s Yolly Ong to brainstorm and help Noynoy’s positioning on the RH issue. We went, wanting to help despite the fact we were still mostly undecided on the candidate to support. Ms. Ong was surprised upon learning that we were not all for “the only pro-RH candidate,” meaning, Aquino.

She said they didn’t want Noynoy to be targeted by the CBCP. She suggested renaming RH into something more palatable to the bishops while at the same time repeatedly assuring us of support for the bill. Soon after, responsible parenthood surfaced as Noynoy’s official position. This became a campaign promise and even included in his “social pact with the people” – his BOSS.

The change in terminologies did not worry many. Most of us voted for him convinced that he was for RH. The CBCP, on the other hand, NEVER supported candidate Aquino.

Fast forward to the present. Malacañang’s claim that PNoy never pushed RH is, therefore, untrue.

RH advocates continued to trust PNoy. After all, he always spoke of respect for couples’ choice, availability of information, not having any bias for any family planning method, availability of contraceptives especially to the poor, even RH education — all important components of the RH bill.

Advocates were repeatedly assured by some Cabinet members, specifically, Secretaries Soliman, Ona, and Carandang that the President was pro-RH. We were not about to doubt these credible officials. RH/RP was always included in the list of possible priority measures.

Then, deadma time began.

Malacañang initiated the dialogue with the bishops to the exclusion of more important stakeholders like women and civil society organizations. Deadma.

Women requested to dialogue with the President. Deputy Spokesperson Valte’s statement that she did not know of any request (despite being sent to at least three intermediaries) betrays the Palace’s attitude on women which is: Deadma.

Palace excluded the RH/RP bill from its priorities. Biggest deadma.

Does the President really believe that the men in robes will budge from their position? Does he think bishops will ever agree to contraception? Isn’t this naive?

We have information that PNoy dropped RH/RP not because of the unfinished dialogue with the CBCP but because HE DOES NOT WANT THE CBCP TO BE IN THE OPPOSITION. PNoy is only in the first of his six years in office and he cannot run for re-election. Why be scared?

The best time to make tough decisions on controversial issues is while the political capital is high. People are more accepting. Trust is there. The time is now.

All is not lost for the RH bill. Congress’ work is commendable and we are quite optimistic that the bill will be passed. However, if PNoy wants to fulfil his campaign promises and prove that the Filipino people is indeed his boss and not the CBCP, he can still do it.

If he wants to save women’s lives and not have the eleven DEAD MAmas daily on his head, he can still do it.

I previously wrote that the litmus test for PNoy’s political will is the RH bill. Slowly, his credibility is eroding with questions about his indecisiveness.

Mr. President, prove to us that you can make tough decisions. Certify the RH bill as urgent.

Stop this game of deadma. Otherwise, you fail.

Deadma‘ is republished here with permission from Ms. Angsioco